Helder Guimarães


In 2006, at the age of 23, Helder Guimarães became the youngest ever World Champion of Card Magic. He was awarded the title after his performance in a triennial competition, which left both the judging panel and over a thousand other performers utterly baffled. Since then, using his background in acting and theatre, he created and performed his one-man shows all over the world.

My Definition Of Success | I never had a definition of success in mind. I think it really depends on the moment. Doing what you like every single day seems more than enough to define success to me.

I Am Driven By | Providing others the feeling of impossibility. There is a beauty in experiencing impossible things and I love sharing it with others. I’m also driven by being better at what I do every single day. I think perfection is not unattainable by anyone, and sometimes can actually be an obstacle to some people. But, nevertheless, I am driven by it. Having fun in the process is also a key element; if you’re not having fun you’re not doing what you should. That’s probably the only absolute truth I believe.

My Highlights | I think every moment is a step up the ladder. I learn and evolve with every single moment. In 2004, I won a prize that is named after one of my mentors, the Ascanio Prize. That was not the biggest award I have ever gotten, but till today it is the most emotional one for me. Maybe it didn’t have the repercussion that other achievements had in my career, but definitely helped me emotionally to pursue those other things. When I won the World Championship of Card Magic, in 2006, it did change my life. I started to have offers I never had before. I was able to travel around the world, perform doing what I love and meet different people and cultures. That helped me see the world differently, evolve and even triggered me to move to Los Angeles. Being invited to perform at the main TED conference was another high point, so excited to be part of that. Personally, my parents gave me a wonderful education and that helped me pursue my dreams. I had great teachers, friends and mentors in life that helped me think by myself. And finally, meeting my girlfriend and learning from her how to be the person I wanted to be was the biggest lesson I have ever had.

The Difference Between Good And Great | I believe it has to do with where your focus is placed. If your focus is in the right place, you will find your way easily. But if it’s not, maybe you’ll spend years and years trying to understand what that extra step is. There is also a self-awareness that you need to have in other to achieve your goals. You have to be brutally honest with yourself and understand why you’re not where you want to be. Listening to others can sometimes hurt people, because accolades rarely take you anywhere. It’s people that want you to succeed and point out your flaws that you should listen too. Because those are the things you have to focus on, to be a more complete version of what you want to be.

A Key Talent | I hate talking about what makes me special or not, because I believe all of us have something special. I think that, for me, something that worked very well is that I never think anything is finished. I like to think and ponder about every single detail of my creations and think about other possibilities that I never thought of before. This is an exhausting process, and therefore something we have to enjoy doing. I believe that if I didn’t, I either would give up or just become mental. But, it is this pursuit of being more honest with what I really want that probably led me to create the type of magic I am more interested in. I would say that you should always look at things and then take a second look. Because the first time you look at something, you never see everything. So, take a second close look at things and then ask yourself: How can this be better? Start with small changes; see how they work out in the final result you want to achieve. Were the changes worth doing? If yes, look again and do more. If not, make some bigger ones, radical ones. Break the structure; make it weaker to find why it work and why it’s not as good as it can be. Be critical of others and hold the same standard to yourself. Not everything you do it’s good, but that doesn’t mean you’re not on the right track. Keep going, keep making things better. Eventually, in an artistic endeavour, when you do this you will find your voice.

The Characteristics Of Success | I don’t give up. I am always thinking of magic. Always thinking of performance and what I want to do with my work. I am always finding new ways of exploring what I do and to present it to an audiences. I am always asking “Who am I?” and every day that answer shifts a little bit. It’s ok. Nobody is the same person all the time. You just need to acknowledge it and keep going towards where you want to be. Stay true to yourself. Very rarely, when you do something you don’t want it turns out to be what you expected. So, learn to say no and embrace your values sincerely, because it’s what you believe that will drive you forward.

Critical Skills I Develop | Endurance. Things will not always be easy, and when they are not you need keep going. That’s something that only depends on your willingness to do what you do. That’s why you should always have fun, in the good and in the bad moments. This is what will keep you going.

How I Use My Mind | I visualize what that means to me. And if it’s only a rational thing, I don’t even try. But if there is an emotional quality to my goal, if that is something will make the world a slightly better place, where magic will be enhanced as an art form and that I will be proud of it and of myself, then I am all in. My ambitions are not fame or money, my ambition is happiness. And it can come in many shapes and forms, but without that emotional connection it will never appear, no matter how much money or fame you have.

Lessons I Have Learnt | It’s better to smile at everything that happens to you. Good or bad, it’s your attitude towards anything that will make it better or worth it. Embrace everything with a smile on your face and positive things will come out of every scenario life presents your way.

Dealing With Doubt | Every case is a case. You are never prepared for anything, you’re going to make mistakes and you’re not perfect. That’s how the world is. If you embrace them as natural things, they will not create any sense of fear or doubt. Your heroes made mistakes, your mentors and idols are not perfect either. Just understand that humans make errors. How you deal with those errors is your choice.

Performing At My Peak | It’s a mental state. Before performing, I like to have a few minutes to focus all the energy I have on the performance I am about to do. This is like my own mantra. Everyone needs rituals to achieve what they want to achieve, and if you find yours you will be more pleased with the result. I would say, for me, it work 95% of the time. It’s a calming down moment, so save all the energy for the stage.

Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | Besides magic books (obviously) I love seeing and reading things that inspire me to question the world we live in and the see it differently. I love the short stories Kafka, Poe and Chekov, I love the comedy of Bill Hicks, George Carlin and Louie CK, great movies from Wes Anderson, Woody Allen and David Fincher, TV shows like Suits and Modern Family, fantastic music from the likes Tom Waits, Radiohead, Blur, Cake, The Cure, etc.

My Future Dreams And Ambitions | So many things. I can’t even write them down. I will just keep pursuing them, and when they happen they happen. If they don’t, they don’t. I will be happy just trying to achieve them.

The Meaning Of Life | Sometimes you do things that you’re not proud of and people love it, and other times you’re so happy about your work and other look down on you. You have to live with yourself, and that’s why you should start by listening to yourself before listening to others. Opinions can change lives, but again, they will not make you happier. You are the only person that can make yourself happy every day. So, be proud of what you’re doing every day. I believe the meaning of life is finding this sweet spot that make happiness a constant in your life.

The Best Advice I’ve Received | You can always be better.

Advice On Building Wealth | Don’t. If that is your priority, you will miss the beauty of life.

On Inspiring Others | Naturally. When you’re honest about what you do, when you truly believe in what you are and what your pure goal is, people will be drawn towards you. So, don’t search too hard, they will be around you.

I Am Inspired By | My biggest hero is a gentleman called Juan Tamariz. When I saw him perform magic, my life changed. I decided then, at the age of 11, that that’s what would like to do. I tried to find my voice inside the experience I had that night. Every day I keep pursuing that.

The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | The world is an amazing place, where unbelievable and impossible things happen. Humans have the potential to turn ordinary things into extraordinary accomplishments. I would like people to remember that every day, and to pursue their own goals and dreams by believing in magic. What I do is just to show them that truth. I’m just a reminder that impossible things can become possible. If people would believe more in this, I assure you the world could even be more amazing.

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